I’m on the “Everything’s Cool Until It’s Not” side of being stressed out or anxious. Most of the time, everything’s cool. After my first child was born, everything was definitely not.
I had my first panic attack on an airplane, sweating and shaking and gasping for breath while my infant son slept soundly in my arms. It felt like, for the first time in my life, that my mind did not belong to me and it was instead something that was on loan and was now being repossessed. The voice that was talking to me during the panic attack was totally freaking out, and I could do nothing but sit there and watch it flail. I got off the plane, found a doctor, took some medication, and I got better.
Since then, my anxiety only likes to rear its head when things in life get a little too out-of-control or hectic or if my children steal my sleep from me. So, most of the time everything’s cool. But sometimes it’s not. And most of the time it’s cool because I have realized what it takes to make my particular body worthy of habitation. I like to be in my body when my brain is happy and well-rested and not trying to exit its home.
I have found out that there are good and bad ways of coping with the normal everyday stress of living.
If any of these things fall out of my life, shit starts to hit the fan and my family starts to look at me like my head is going to spin around at any moment.
Exercise: I don’t always particularly enjoy it, but it keeps me from wanting to eat my young, so that’s nice.
Meditation: Should have a slogan that says, “For all those annoying voices reminding you of dumb shit you did and telling you terrifying stuff about a future that probably won’t happen.”
Friends: This is vital to my existence. I need to be able to download things that are bothering me with someone other than the human I share a bed with sometimes. And women tend to cheer other women on in a way that partners don’t always get, and they know when to lie about how big your butt is looking.
Sleep: If I don’t sleep, I am an evil being who no one wants to be friends with.
Drugs (that have been prescribed to you): They work.
Ice cream: Very good at the time. Very bad for back fat and cholesterol and feelings of self-worth.
Too much alcohol: We’ve all been there, and danced our asses off there, and worshiped the porcelain god there, and then hated ourselves there.
Online shopping: Sometimes I feel like someone is going to come up to me and say, “Stop. Put your hands up and just step away from the Amazon Prime.”
Binging on Netflix: Not actually bad until you find yourself at 3 in the morning watching your fifty-second episode of Gilmore Girls.
Screaming: Particularly at your family until they don’t want to be around you anymore.
Coping doesn’t mean that all of the stress and anxiety and chatty little voices go away. Coping is just a means of dealing with living in a human body, with human problems. We all have to find what works for us, and sometimes alcohol and ice cream and becoming a vegetable in front of a screen most definitely works for me. I just have to remind myself that the balance of the good (meds, exercise, and sleep) with the bad is is vital to my well-being.